Any home Buyer should be totally satisfied with two primary conditions of a property before going to closing: (1) the physical condition of the house is free of major defects; and (2) that you own the property “free and clear,” which means that no one other than you has a right to use and enjoy the property after closing. Failure to ensure these conditions prior to closing could result in you having to spend money out of your own pocket after closing—a lot of money—to fix these problems.
Starting with contract review and ending with representation at the closing table, an attorney provides the crucial service of making sure that you are getting what you bargained for in buying a house. Here are the top five reasons you should use an attorney for buying a house:
- Experience. Buying real estate can be like visiting a foreign land: you don’t know the language, you don’t know the currency, and you don’t know where to go. An experienced real estate attorney knows the lay of the land and how to get you where you want to go. An attorney knows the parties, knows the terms, and knows what you can and cannot get. An attorney can anticipate problems and help you avoid them before they arise, or can solve existing problems quickly and in a way that benefits you and not someone else. This can save you money and headaches in a stressful time.
- Loyalty. There are many parties involved in buying a house: Realtors, your lender, the title company, etc. But there is only one party—your attorney—who is absolutely loyal to you. An attorney will advocate for you and stand up to get you what you want and what you bargained for. In times of doubt or confusion, you can take comfort that your attorney has the best interests of you (and only you) in mind at times.
- Drafting/Review of Documents. An attorney’s primary job is to make sure that the words written on the paper reflect your understanding of the terms of the deal. Does your contract say what you think it does? In the event of a dispute between the parties, only the words written on the page will be honored. If the words on the page do not reflect your understanding of the deal, the result could range from disappointment to disaster.
- Making Suggestions. Did you know that one of the benefits of having a new survey made of the property you are buying is that you can typically get the boundary lines of your property as well as the amount of acreage insured at no extra cost? Insurance that your boundary lines are not encroached and that you are receiving the full amount of acreage you believe you are purchasing is not included in typical title insurance if you don’t make a new survey. This is potentially a huge benefit that most people do not know about and are never told throughout the home buying process. These are the kind of tips that an experience real estate attorney can offer you in reviewing your contract and preparing for closing.
- Completeness. Am I forgetting anything? From inspections to mortgage application and ordering a title search, there are lots of moving parts in a real estate purchase—and all of them are important. An attorney will review your matter in advance of proceeding to the closing table to make sure that both the Buyer and the Seller have completed all of their respective obligations.